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The best luxury hotels in the UK for a staycation
With the UK government having announced an international travel ban across the country, a local staycation may be your only option for a holiday this year when hotels reopen on May 17. If you're planning a staycation or roadtrip for your next holiday while international borders remain closed, we've rounded up the best luxury spa hotels in the UK to help you book your holiday in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Ireland
Park Hotel Kenmare, Kerry
The quintessentially rural town of Kenmare, nestled among mountains and lush green fields in the south-west corner of Ireland, has a long-standing reputation as a gastronomic hotspot – and the five-star Park Hotel Kenmare is home to one of the region’s best dining spots. Originally built in 1897, the hotel retains the grandeur of its Victorian heritage but on a charming and intimate scale. The Dining Room at the Park Hotel is a traditional fine-dining spot under the expert leadership of chef James Coffey, who recently scooped the coveted Chef of the Year award from the Ireland Guide. From a hearty traditional breakfast to superb tasting menus, every dish is prepared with care and passion. Locally sourced seafood, meat and vegetables are transformed into simple yet sensational dishes and paired with an excellent selection of wines.
Food aside, the hotel has a wide range of first-class amenities befitting its five-star status. The spa, Sámas, offers Sisley wellness treatments, a 25-metre lap pool and lifestyle classes such as yoga and meditation, while the hotel’s concierge can arrange a number of excursions and activities from scenic cruises of Kenmare Bay to horse riding lessons, lawn croquet and even deep-sea diving and fishing.
The Best Luxury Hotels in England
Cary Arms & Spa, Devon
Serial superyacht owner Peter de Savary’s south Devon hideaway, which sits at the bottom of the perilously steep Babbacombe Cliff, offers a taste of riviera lifestyle, albeit the English variety. With a clutch of moorings and a jetty for easy arrivals, an old stone inn sits at its heart, scattered with nautical paraphernalia. The hotel has been expanded to include a glass-fronted spa and a handful of modern beach huts.
To feel like you are still at sea, book into one of the hotel’s suites, where bi-fold doors open on to expansive terraces for uninterrupted views of the red cliffs and Sammy the seal (who often pops by). A crackling fire and personal touches, such as a complimentary bottle of sloe gin, add warmth to the room’s contemporary neutral interiors. For an added taste of life on the waves at lunch, book the Captain’s Table, which is set alone surrounded by white trellis fencing and has its own flagpole. It is the best seat in the house for devouring the restaurant’s freshly caught seafood, including pints of prawns and Lyme Bay lobster.
Bvlgari Hotel, London
The Bvlgari Hotel is located in the heart of prestigious Knightsbridge. Surrounded by London’s famous luxury department stores and designer boutiques, as well as some of the city’s finest cultural institutions, there’s no better location for a break in the capital.
The hotel was designed by Milan-based design firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and is instantly striking with its clean, Portland stone façade. This sense of refined elegance continues once you’re welcomed inside, with an inherent residential feel to each of the 85 spacious rooms and suites. Neutral colours are punctuated with high-end textures and finishes, such as polished Sapele mahogany walls, black Marquina marble bathrooms, mirrored surfaces and plush velvet furnishings.In the hotel’s lower levels is the spa, offering state-of-the-art beauty and wellness treatments, a pioneering workshop gymnasium and an impressive swimming pool flanked by daybeds and regal columns. Guests can also enjoy dinner at Sette, the new Italian restaurant housed on the ground floor of the hotel, before heading for an evening drink at the eminently stylish cocktail bar and lounge Nolita Social, which hosts weekly live music and the capital’s best DJs.
Since reopening, the hotel has launched its Staycations Collection – a series of experiences carefully curated to each guests’desires as they return to travel post-lockdown, whether that be prioritising privacy or kickstarting your fitness regime. 10% of payements for each Bvlgari Staycation is donated to COVID-19 vaccine research at Oxford University.
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Oxfordshire
For the ultimate farm-to-table experience, book a stay at this Michelin-starred, bucolic retreat headed by chef Raymond Blanc and managed by the brand behind the Orient Express train. After tunnelling down the twisting country lanes of Oxford, guests will discover the boutique tucked away between perfectly manicured gardens, perfumed rows of lavender and acres of fruit trees, housed in a picturesque 15th century manor house. Home to Blanc's cookery school, the hotel's meticulously maintained vegetable plots are bursting with seasonal produce that will be harvested for creating flavoursome dishes that fuse the best British ingredients with fine French cuisine.
Accommodation at the hotel is just as quaint and countrified as could be expected. Bathrooms are equipped with classic Victorian tubs and rooms feature rustic wood finishes, including authentic Tudor beams, offset by pastel furnishings and colourful canopies draped around four-poster beds. Book in a private cooking, gardening or photography class on site, or ask the concierge to arrange an adventurous local outing, from trips in a classic car or yacht, to a day of fishing or clay pigeon shooting in the surrounding countryside.
The Marylebone Hotel, London
When most Brits think of staycation locations, their thoughts are usually far from central London. But the capital’s leafy suburbs of Marylebone can feel deceivingly village-like, and The Marylebone Hotel has a warmth and charm akin to a home counties retreat – despite being just a 10 minute walk from the Oxford Street shopping district.
Tucked between the Georgian mansions of Welbeck Street and spread over an unexpectedly extensive space, the hotel offers homely rooms and sumptuous suites that peer out over the quintessentially British pubs and red brick buildings of the surrounding area. Inside, guests will also find a gourmet restaurant, a lively bar, numerous event and lounging spaces and access to a full gym and swimming pool. The interior design has been carefully overseen by the owner, and common spaces are art-deco inspired and vibrantly decorated, characterised by richly-coloured wall coverings, hanging plants, eclectic leather and velvet furnishings, all complemented by gently smouldering hearths. The pièce de résistance is undeniably the Marylebone suite, which offers a rooftop terrace equipped with a fireplace and flat screen TV for cosy, open air movie nights, romantically back-dropped by London’s city lights.
Located a stone’s throw from cultural hidden gems like the Wallace Collection museum and bookended by boutique stores and quaint cafés, The Marylebone is the perfect base for domestic travellers taking advantage of a quieter-than-usual London town.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Wales
Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire
For those who’d like to command their own castle for the weekend, this boutique hotel with just six suites is the perfect place for a Welsh weekend getaway. Built in medieval times as a Norman fortress, Roch castle not only boasts a colourful history (it was once the home of King Charles II’s mistress, Lucy) but also cosy accommodation offered from its turreted bedrooms. Climbing the stairs that wind past walls of exposed, unhewn rock, guests will also find an unexpectedly modern, glass fronted drawing room to relax in. From here, take in unobstructed views across a backdrop of Pembrokeshire’s rugged coastline and green, rolling hills.
Overlooking the cliffs of south Wales’ St Brides bay, the castle is ideally located for those who want to spend their days surfing the waves or foraging the coastal waters for mussels and crab. There’s also in-room spa treatments on offer, and foodies should make sure to hop over to nearby Blas restaurant for a gourmet meal made from pure, Welsh ingredients, including locally sourced samphire and seafood.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Scotland
An award winning golf course that’s hosted The Ryder and Solheim Cups. Miles of rugged Scottish heath for outdoor pursuits. Interiors decked out with antique books, moody landscape paintings and touches of tweed. Everything you’d expect from a luxurious Scotland staycation can be found at Gleneagles. The grounds are arguably the biggest draw for the outdoorsy traveller hoping to spend some time away from home revelling in the brisk country air; from horse riding and fishing to shooting and falconry there’s more than enough to keep you preoccupied.
Indoors, warm up by the fireside with a whisky in hand before dining at the country’s only two Michelin-starred restaurant, Andrew Fairlie. Ingredients are sourced right from the hotel’s walled garden, and Smoked Scottish lobster is the speciality dish. To further unwind, wander over to the spa for a swim in the sizeable pool, or enjoy beauty and wellness treatments in the hotel’s pastel-coloured beauty lounge, where guests are served cocktails from vintage drink trollies.
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